Trevor Bryn, 18, of Bethel, Conn. admitted Tuesday in Dukes County Superior Court that in an unprovoked attack he smashed Daniel Potthoff in the face with a rock and stole his money. The robbery occurred on an Oak Bluffs town beach late on July 4, 2009.
Mr. Bryn pled guilty to robbery and assault charges. Associate Justice Tina Page sentenced Mr. Bryn to 2.5 years in a house of correction on the robbery charge. He must serve nine months. The balance of the sentence will be suspended for a period of three years from the date of sentencing, during which time he must remain out of trouble. He was also sentenced to three years of probation on the assault charge.
“There seems to me to be a particular sense of viciousness,” Judge Page said prior to sentencing. “There was a weapon used.”
According to assistant district attorney Laura Marshard, Mr. Potthoff’s nose was broken in multiple places, and he required extensive reconstructive surgery to repair the injuries. Ms. Marshard said that if the case had gone to trial, the Commonwealth had evidence to prove Mr. Bryn, without any provocation, approached Mr. Potthoff from behind and struck him in the face with a rock.
“He turned to his attacker and was struck in the face again,” Ms. Marshard said. “He told me he won’t return to Martha’s Vineyard. He has fear and mistrust of strangers that he never felt before. On Martha’s Vineyard, most people feel relatively safe and wouldn’t expect such violence to occur.” Ms. Marshard asked Judge Page to sentence Mr. Bryn to a term of one to three years in state prison.
Mr. Potthoff, who was visiting an Island friend from his home in Ashland, at the time of the attack, was not in court Tuesday, but submitted a statement. Ms. Marshard read parts of the statement into the record. “This incident has been extremely traumatizing,” Mr. Potthoff wrote. He asked the judge to sentence his attacker to the maximum jail time for a vicious unprovoked attack and robbery.
Defense attorney Rob Hofman asked the judge to sentence Mr. Bryn to three years of probation.
“Mr. Bryn is a young man who stands before the court expressing remorse, accepting responsibility,” Mr. Hofman said. “Probation will prevent him from making such poor decisions in the future.”
In addition to nine months in jail, Judge Page ordered Mr. Bryn to abstain from drugs or alcohol and get a job, as conditions of his probation.
Last week, Alexander J. Daignault, 20, also of Bethel, was sentenced to 60 days in jail after pleading guilty to an assault and robbery in connection with the same incident the prosecutor described as an unprovoked ambush.
Mr. Daignault was among a group of young men who traveled to the Island for the July 4th holiday, according to court testimony. They were drinking heavily late in the evening, when they attacked two men.